It’s often been debated whether or not art imitates life, or if life imitates art. Unfortunately, that debate has never usually applied to television (often viewed as a corporate medium) – even when it comes to shows like Mr. Robot.
Following the tragic shooting of two local news reporters in Virginia this morning, USA has announced that it will be delaying the season one finale of the critically acclaimed drama by a week to September 2nd, 2015. The reason? A scene contained within the episode that shares far too many striking similarities to the events of today.
Here is the statement from USA:
The previously filmed season finale of Mr. Robot contains a graphic scene similar in nature to today’s tragic events in Virginia. Out of respect to the victims, their families and colleagues, and our viewers, we are postponing tonight’s episode. Our thoughts go out to all those affected during this difficult time.
Having seen the scene in question, the move makes almost too much sense, and there had been internal chatter within the critical community about how USA was planning on handling the situation. Now we have our answer. Without spoiling anything, what can be said is the scene is extremely graphic and really left the network with no choice but to delay the finale.
This isn’t the first time episodes of television have had to be delayed or aired with a warning due to airing on the same day as a national tragedy. There was, of course, an episode of Hannibal in 2013 (‘Œuf’) that was pulled for its graphic content following months of tragedy that included the Boston Bombings, and there was also the time the season two finale of Homeland was aired with an advisory warning following the Newtown shooting. Sadly, these kinds of moves are all too common in today’s America, but they also show sensitivity and restraint on the part of the networks that could easily get away with airing the content in question by simply saying, “How were we supposed to know?”
Perhaps what’s more disturbing is how accurate some of the medium’s creatives have been getting in their predictions. Many having been pointing to examples such as Network and Natural Born Killers today as examples of how we were warned long ago of the society we live in now. But they aren’t the only ones. We are now reaching a point where the time between a showrunner writing an episode and a national tragedy happening proving they were right on the money is a matter of weeks, not years. It’s certainly a strange time to be alive, to say the least.
Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on USA.